The other shoe has finally dropped; now, does it fit for Hill?
Over at ProBasketballTalk Kurt Helin reminded us that San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich spent All-Star weekend waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of injuries. Now that it has, with Tony Parker out for 2-4 weeks, will it fit George Hill?
How well Hill fills Parker’s shoes depends largely on how comfortable he feels in his own skin. In short, Popovich does not want Hill to be a point guard, he wants George Hill to be George Hill.
“In his case he was a scorer in college. He wasn’t a point guard, he was more of a two, or two-three, and he just scored,” Popovich said. “When he first came in and we told him he was going to be the backup point his whole mind shifted to being a facilitator completely. We’ve sort of had to get him out of that and remind him what he was capable of doing.”
What George Hill has been capable of doing in his brief NBA career is provide quality defense–more versatile than lock down, but quickly reaching that status–while providing better than average competency in your standard dime a dozen shooting guard skill set on offense.
Once again the San Antonio Spurs will need him to expand that role and provide some quality minutes at the point guard position. While possessing a scorer’s mentality, Hill has not always shown the creative instincts that many point guards inherently possess.Â But what Hill lacks in artistry, he makes up for in basketball IQ.
A year ago Hill filled in admirably for Parker, prompting many to believe the Spurs should trade their longtime point guard to replace him with two-thirds the production at half the price. The success of the team this season, however, with a healthy Parker at the helm, shows the value skill set can sometimes have over numbers.
And while his numbers mirror those from last season, from points per game down to shot selection, Hill has added a few wrinkles to his off the dribble game. More frequently he has used the in and out dribble to his advantage while mixing in a spin move or two. And though he will never be confused for John Stockton, Hill has done a better job of finding the dive man in pick and roll situations and creating some simple passing lanes rather than merely exploiting existing ones.
Hill still has a long way to go before he can be called an instinctive creator. More likely, using his high basketball intelligence, Hill will increasingly be able to approximate a reasonable facsimile of a point guardâ€™s creativity the way a robotâ€”or Tim Duncanâ€”can mimic human emotion.
With Parker out, Popovich doesnâ€™t want Hill to change his game, just his outlook.
“With Tony, heÂ came in as a scorer also, with a little more experience at the point,” Popovich said. “But at the same time, when you enter this league, you still have to feel comfortable about what you do in relation to other players on the team. It took George a while, it even took Tony a little while, so he wouldn’t just defer to everybody all the time.”